Clarke adamant he’s still in hunt for BBC personality award

DARREN CLARKE wants it to be known that he has not pulled his name out of the running for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Clarke, who lost his wife Heather to cancer in August, had been odds-on favourite for the award when he won all his three games in Europe’s record-equalling Ryder Cup victory over the USA just six weeks later.

Bookmakers then suspended betting on him winning the vote after radio reports on Saturday that he would be ruling himself out because he did not want his personal grief put under the spotlight again.

But Clarke said in a statement today: “I would like to set the record straight following suggestions that I did not wish to be considered for the award.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. It would be totally disrespectful of me to withdraw and I have no intention of doing so.

“I consider it a complete honour that some viewers might consider me a worthy recipient of one of sport’s major awards.”

A spokesman for William Hill said: “Darren had been a very hot favourite with us and that is shown by the money that punters have had on him.

“Any bets already placed on Darren will stand, but from now on, we are betting without him until and unless the situation is resolved for sure one way or the other.”

Zara Phillips was installed as the new favourite after becoming the first Briton to win the World Equestrian Championships in 25 years. Her mother, Britain’s Princess Anne, an Olympic-standard rider, won the BBC award in 1971.

Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe, tennis star Andy Murray and England spin bowler Monty Panesar were next highest in the betting.

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